The Lockport, Minooka and Morris girls bowling teams will arrive at Cherry Bowl in Rockford Friday intending to carry on a Joliet-area tradition.
The area has not been denied a place in the final 12 at the Girls State Bowling Tournament since 2003. In fact, it has had at least two teams finish in the top 12 every year since except 2012, when Minooka claimed second place as the only area top-12 finisher, and 2013, when Lockport was fourth as the sole representative.
More recently, Joliet West won the championship last season, with Lockport finishing third. In 2015, the Porters won it all, with West eighth. Minooka was fifth, West 10th and Lockport 11th in 2014.
Lockport won the Andrew Sectional on Saturday with a 6,334 total for six games. That was 70 pins better than runner-up Oswego East, which lost a 118-pin lead and dropped nine pins behind Lockport in Game 5.
Minooka also advanced out of the Andrew Sectional, shooting 6,012 for third place. Oswego was the fourth qualifier.
Minooka senior Carmella Russell won the first tournament of her career, posting a 1,375 total, a 229.2 average. She opened the morning set with her first 300 and had a 269 in Game 3 for a 763 series, then tacked on a 612 three-game series in the afternoon.
Russell’s sister, Gina, a sophomore, finished second overall with a 1,358 score. She opened with a 279 and finished her day with games of 235 and 258.
As is always the case, comparing raw numbers between sectionals is risky at best. Different houses score differently on a given day.
Moments after Lockport wrapped up the Andrew Sectional championship, Porters senior Dana Ackerson commented about the Orland Bowl lanes.
“I felt good, but I felt like the lanes were tough,” said Ackerson, who shot 1,270 for her six games, a 211.7 average, to claim 10th place overall. “But I’ll take 1,270 any day.”
It all starts over from zero at the state meet, so whatever the sectional numbers showed no longer matters. Twenty-four team qualifiers will compete for the 12 available spots for Saturday’s six-game finals.
Those in the know will tell you Lockport and Rockford Harlem are two of the teams to beat at Cherry Bowl, but “surprises” often occur at state.
“Everyone says Harlem and us,” Lockport coach Art Cwudzinski said. “But you don’t know what’s coming from down south. I just expect it to be high-scoring there and intense.”
Ackerson is in the group Cwudzinski calls his super six. The other seniors are Grace Karraker, Paige Reiter, Monica Colon and Marissa Ramirez. Bailey Delrose, a junior, rounds out the six. Cwudzinski’s five-bowler lineup for any game or series this weekend is likely to come from those six.
If the Porters are able to secure their second title in three years, that will be the third under Cwudzinski (the 2009 team won state), and the fifth for the school as Ed Matesevac coached Lockport to state championships in 1994 and 1999.
In addition to the Russell sisters, Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis will count on contributions this weekend from sophomore Krisitna Sickler, senior Sam Isemonger, freshman Alyssa Ritchie and senior Erin Dunn.
Morris was champion of the LaSalle-Peru Sectional. The Redskins, under coach Harry Banks, will bid for their first top-12 finish since 2010, when they were ninth.
Freshman Angel Heck led Morris in the sectional with a 1,300 total. Senior Amy Waldron shot 1,281, sophomore Olivia Schultz 1,265, senior Corrone Day 1,154 and sophomore Cadenz Fitzgerald 1,007.
The competition at state also will include individual competition. The area has no individual qualifiers from non-advancing teams, but anyone bowling for teams at state also will compete for individuals honors.